Is the banking crash imminent?

Bernard Madoff’s 90ft yacht ‘Bull’ is offered for sale in Monaco for €3m this week. Image source: associated press.

I learnt to my cost that the role of Cassandra is no fun.  Why “Apollo’s cursed gift is a source of endless pain and frustration.”

While it is possible to note that the ‘tectonic plates’ of the financial system are shifting and that those shifts presage a ‘financial earthquake’…unless one can get the timing of these things right – one’s insights are, rightly, scorned and ridiculed.

But I am now more attuned to the signs.

In the run-up to the 2007-9 crisis advertisements for yachts started appearing in the FT’s ‘How to Spend It’ magazine. First, there were one or two. Then more. Then they expanded and became double-page spreads. The vast backgrounds of sea and sky, set against the shiny white of the boats were blinding to the casual, disinterested reader. But as the credit-fuelled asset bubble expanded, text on these glossy ads disappeared. There was just the sea, the sky, the vast burnished white boat and some numbers: $7 million.

And then crash! bang! wallop! For almost a year or so, very few ads for yachts appeared. Simultaneously the property section of the paper was wiped out. We were back to fancy watches, gadgets and clothes.

Last weekend the FT devoted the WHOLE of the magazine to – you guessed it -yachts! And today the paper reports, hedge-funders are in Monte Carlo to buy up Bernard Madoff’s old yacht….

Could this be the sign? Or just BULL?

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